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Zombie Nation Goes Zombielicious Using Cubase

The man behind Zombie Nation, Cubase user Florian Senfter, is also known under further guises such as John Starlight and Splank! Way back in the ’90s, Senfter propelled himself into the spotlight of the electronic dance scene, landing a smash hit with "Kernkraft 400". Little did he know that this tune would become one of the most remixed electronic tunes ever, as well as to turn out to be the anthem for more zombie nations than he could possibly imagine. Now a decade old, "Kernkraft 400" is still favourably played as vociferous intermezzo at sports events and festivals. Zombie Nation, meanwhile, has evolved to become one of the most famed German techno acts around, having recently released his fourth album Zombielicious, a 14-track long player jam-packed with quality tunes in typical Zombie Nation fashion.

Without a doubt, Senfter is not only a brilliant producer, but a formidable live performer as well. Piled around him are various bits of music gear which he so intricately understands to put to use, thus amplifying any quintessential place to be for all things dance into one stark raving mad throng of rabid electronic music supporters. Steinberg was there to have a quick chitchat with the man himself.

Florian, tell us a little about your background?
I produce my own music in my Munich-based studio, and I frequently play live shows as Zombie Nation.

How’s your album Zombielicious been doing since it was released beginning of March?
It has been received very well! It feels good to get all that great feedback. I get a lot of comments that it sounds unique, or people like the analogue feel in the sound. It is especially great if I hear that from someone who is not familiar with the technical side or recording in general.

Since the release I imagine you’ve been on tour quite a bit. Where have you been and which city and venue did you like best?
The tour is always on, right now it is a bit more intense though. I don’t have a special preference. The next show can potentially always be the best one.

Your live performances are musically impressive. How do you prepare yourself for your gigs?
Thanks! I constantly work on my live set. It takes quite some time, just like anything that you want to do good. I always optimize my setup, which pays back because if you keep it fresh, it will also sound fresh.

Studio work or live performances — which do you prefer?
You can’t really compare them with each other. When I am on the road I miss the studio. But there is nothing like the feeling when blasting one’s music out of a huge sound system and seeing how people react to what you do. Having a good weekend can be quite inspiring to continue in the studio.

You’ve been working with Cubase for some time now. Which feature do you find especially handy in our advanced music production system?
Recently I worked on a mini mix for Annie Mac on BBC Radio One. It’s about five minutes long and every 10 to 15 seconds a new track is mixed in. I got familiar with the Cubase variable time AudioWarp feature to be most flexible. In the beginning, I wasn’t sure if I am on the right path, but after two hours I was working super quick, and it turned out that this was exactly what I needed. I will sure use this feature more often.

What does your typical studio setup look like?
I do the sequencing and almost all arranging on the MPC 4000, after which I record all tracks in Cubase to finish the song. Being a big fan of my MPC, I think it’s so cool that Cubase 5 now has its own MPC-style drum sampler with Groove Agent ONE. The 16 pads are arranged in the same way, and it’s possible to load MPC programs directly — this is great added value! I also use a lot of hardware processors, effects and synths. I just need this playground feeling with a lot of toys to get into the right mood.

And what gear do you use for your live act?
I use an MPC 4000, filters, delays and a 16-channel mixing desk. No laptops on stage. This gives me the best possibility to concentrate on my performance. It’s very haptic. I have everything at my hands. Actually I think I could even control my gear in total darkness.

Are there any projects you are working on at the moment?
Right now I am still touring, I desperately want to hang out in the studio to work on all the ideas that I’ve collected in my head. At the moment I am just jamming with a funny program called iSyn on the iPod touch.

Thanks for this quick tête-à-tête, and remember, take good care of that dongle of yours!
I will, thank you!

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